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FHP: Former military member jumps to death out of moving car

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Updated: 11/12/2013 7:46 pm
LAWTEY, Fla. -- Four men were headed home from a veterans cemetery in Lawtey after honoring a fallen soldier when a former military member in the back seat opened the door and jumped to his death.

"Here's a day we're honoring the sacrifice of our veterans as far as their commitment to our country and then something tragic like this occurs," said Sgt. Dylan Bryan with the Florida Highway Patrol.

It was a heartbreaking end to Veterans Day. Bryan said former military member Lester Garrison, 40, jumped of the car while it was traveling 65 mph on U.S. 301.

"They were coming back from a cemetery where they were honoring the sacrifice of one of their close friends or family members who was in the military service," he said.

Bryan said it was a Veterans Day tradition for the four men in the car; they have a drink at the grave site of their loved one and celebrate his life. It was on the drive home that the tradition took a turn.

"The rear passengers were discussing life's issues -- life and death and everything in between -- and at that point, the left rear passenger decided to exit," he said.

The Sigma Center for Counseling works with military members past and present. Counselors have seen many of the tragic stories, but even they are taken aback by the course of events.

"I can't even imagine how difficult that's going to be for the family, for the people that he loves. That's an awful, horrible thing to hear," said Amber Ray.

The counselors said they hope cases like this one raise a red flag high for all to see.

"It's a sad story, because this is the end result of all of his hard work," said Amy Lucas.

Bryan said the driver of the car is cooperating and he voluntarily submitted a blood sample because the men had admitted to have been drinking. But Action News is told there's no indication any of them were over the legal limit.

FHP is awaiting autopsy results to figure out exactly how Garrison died.
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